My consulting career of 15+ years requires me to be a bit of a mobile office as I serve clients from one end of the city to the next. On most days I’m toting a laptop, tablet, cell phone, other business and personal necessities, a water bottle, lunch and snacks for the day, even work-out clothes. In my search for a perfect workbag, something functional, fashionable, and a bit “kicky”, I discovered that nothing existed in the marketplace that met my needs.
So I finally gave up my search and decided to make my own bag.
After several versions, I finally had a product that I was ready to take to market. In 2012 I launched my first line of Go Girl Carriers (laptop totes) with the help of Denver based contract sewers.
Over the course of time I have had two beautiful children while maintaining a full-time job and moon-lighting to launch my line of bags. In result, my bag needs have expanded as I jump from toddler time to conference rooms to playdates and family barbeques. This has driven my newer, more versatile bag designs. Whether you're a working woman, mommy on a mission, student about campus, or lady out on the town, Katina bags offers organization solutions that meet the needs of any woman on-the-go.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Getting the product to market is one thing, but actually selling the product is a whole other ball-game. I foolishly thought my social network would magically take care of sales. I realized quickly that was not the case and that I needed a solid marketing and social media strategy.
I put a lot of energy on a day-to-day basis into figuring out how to make SEO and social media work for me with the end goal of driving traffic to my web-site. My first sales on-line were a result of a Facebook contest, a discount, and a lot of on-line ads (e.g. Facebook, Google, Bing, etc.) driving traffic to my site. I continue to learn more every day about how to make social media a useful and fun tool and increase site traffic. My vision is to develop a loyal following and create a lifestyle brand. I want people that relate to me and my lifestyle that resulted in the creation of my bags to be the buyers and loyal Katina bag fans. I want to not only make great bags, but give back.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
There seem to be countless number of tools and apps out there. My priority when I opened my on-line store was to just focus on the basics like order tracking and fulfillment.
However, when orders were not flowing in as I'd hoped, my focus shifted to marketing/advertising and increasing site traffic. So with that in mind, I started trying to identify applications that would simplify and streamline communications and social media management.
My two favorite applications right now include Constant Contact and HootSuite. I'm always looking for better apps that offer ways to minimize my time, manage everything and take advantage of Shopify's features and easy integration components. This will likely be a work in progress always.
Another feature, that I consider a must is the ability to offer discounts. This is a huge selling point for customers and so worth the upgrade fees.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Start simple, test your market, and improve over time.
Invest in tools, applications, etc. that increase site traffic. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as "build it and they will come". There has to be constant care and feeding as well as intrigue (oh and don't forget the discounts) to drive customers to your site.